Stinchfield Woods. — A gift of $10,000 from Mrs. Annie Tillson Stinchfield of Detroit, in memory of Jacob and Charles Stinchfield, made it possible in 1925 to purchase land for Stinchfield Woods. With the funds provided by Mrs. Stinchfield, and a small appropriation by the University, almost 320 acres in two separate tracts south of Portage Lake, about fifteen miles from Ann Arbor, were acquired. The westerly part, described on the acquisition map as the Bell tract, had an area of eighty acres, whereas the eastern tract contained approximately 240 acres.
In 1946 the Peach Mountain tract was purchased from the State Department of Conservation, and in 1949 the Carr tract of sixty acres, the Gardner tract of ninety acres, and the Ford and Pustay tracts of forty acres each, were added. Purchase of the Losey tract brought the area of the tract to almost 780 acres.
Across the Huron River to the east and bordering on the Strawberry Lake Road lies another University-owned property of 207 acres known as the Newcomb tract. This was purchased in 1929 for $30,000 from William W. and Esther M. Newcomb as the site for the Astronomical Observatory. Pending its use for this purpose, the administration of the land was handled by the Department of Zoology. For almost nineteen years the Newcomb tract was used chiefly for ornithological and limnological observations. During that period some plantations were established and cared for by the School of Natural Resources, and in 1949 the School was assigned the management of approximately eighty acres of the tract, including the farm buildings which are now used as headquarters for Stinchfield Woods and which are occupied by the assistant to the Manager of Forest Properties. Adjoining the Newcomb tract Page 1632on the east is the Murdock tract of thirty-three acres purchased in 1951. The Newcomb and Murdock tracts are considered part of Stinchfield Woods so that the total area now embraces 890 acres.
The eastern part of the original purchase in 1925 consisted of 165 acres of cleared land and seventy-five acres of severely grazed hardwoods. The soil varies from sand and gravel to clay, but the prevailing type is Bellefontaine sandy loam, which is of low value for crop production. When the area was acquired most of the cleared land was no longer cropped but did furnish some poor pasturage. Planting of the open land began in 1925 and was completed in 1940. Several cuts to remove trees of poor quality or of low-value species have been made in the hardwood stands on these two tracts, and some small, poorly stocked areas have been clear cut and replanted with pines. Black and white oaks and several species of hickory predominate heavily. Some seedling reproduction of white ash, black cherry, and sassafras has occurred in places, and some sprouting has resulted from the cuttings. Small areas have been underplanted with hard and Norway maples.
On the Peach Mountain tract were sixty acres of heavily grazed hardwoods and eighty-seven acres of cleared land when the land was acquired. One improvement cut has been made in the hardwood area, and planting of the open land was begun in 1946 and completed in 1952. With the exception of some scattered red cedar, there is practically no natural seedling reproduction. The tower of the University's broadcasting station is on Peach Mountain, and the School's sawmill is a short distance below the tower. Public access to the top of Peach Mountain is provided for in an agreement with the State Conservation Department.
The Carr tract is made up of forty-seven acres of hardwood and thirteen acres of old field. Improvement cuts in the hardwood area were made in the winters of 1950-51 and 1951-52. Site quality on parts of this area is very low for hardwoods. White ash reproduction is good in some places, but seedlings of other species are practically lacking. The cleared land was planted with conifers in 1952.
The Gardner, Pustay, Losey, and Ford tracts consist mostly of old fields with small areas of poor, over-grazed hardwoods. Until August, 1952, the Pustay tract was subject to a lease under which gravel could be removed. Another gravel lease of ten acres on the Ford tract expires when the gravel is exhausted.
The part of the Newcomb tract controlled by the School of Natural Resources consists of nineteen acres of hardwoods, fifty-one acres of old fields, and ten acres around the buildings, partly used as a nursery. A 15-acre field growing up to sumac, hawthorn, and poor Scotch pine, naturally seeded-in from trees planted to the west in 1915, was planted with conifers in 1950. The Murdock tract is completely wooded with a hardwood stand of potentially good quality.
There is a large variety of wildlife on the area. The greatest attraction is the deer which between 1945 and 1949 increased to such proportions that an open season was declared in the county. Other game animals and fur-bearers are rabbits, grey and fox squirrels, fox, woodchucks, badgers, raccoons, opossums, weasels, and an occasional coyote. Of the game birds, ruffed grouse and pheasants are present. Occasionally quail are seen. Songbirds, hawks, and owls comprise the remainder of the bird population.
Some wildlife management practices have been introduced with beneficial results. Multiflora roses have been Page 1633planted along the exterior fence lines as a source of food and cover for wildlife and also to provide a permanent stockproof fence that will not require maintenance. Since 1947 squirrel and raccoon den trees have been preserved.
The senior Forestry class of 1942 established a fund for the purchase of a portable sawmill. With contributions from the Forestry Club, succeeding senior classes, and alumni, a fund was built to about $2,000. With this amount on hand the University contributed enough to make possible the purchase and installation of the mill.
The building was constructed entirely by students, and the material came largely from the forest properties of the School. One notable exception is the corner posts and the posts around the doors, which are of wood from Chile brought here by a graduate student from that country. The equipment was also installed by student labor, and the building and installation were completed in the spring of 1947. The first lumber was cut in the fall of 1947.
A small nursery was begun on the Newcomb tract in the spring of 1949 immediately east of the caretaker's house. Each spring the establishment of seed beds and transplanting of older stock are done, as required work, by the class in artificial forestation. Water for irrigation through the overhead sprinkler system is pumped from the Huron River.